Sunday, August 30, 2009

crmbt - ouray to montrose

We were up by 5:30am on Saturday, the last day of CRMBT. The route for the day was a 38 mile, slightly downhill run from Ouray back to Montrose, where we'd begun one week ago. To make it more interesting, there was a left turn when you reached Ridgway, taking you off of highway 550 and onto 62 toward Dallas Divide. Instead of "coming on down the other side", we would come back down the way we came. Back on 550 we would have 28 miles to Montrose.

I snapped a few pictures of the moon in the sky over the Ouray skyline and some of the Victorian homes on the neighborhood. We had breakfast, got our bags to the luggage truck, pumped up our tires and were ready to roll. Pat was still dealing with contacts, and sunscreen, but he and Rick had decided to ride straight to Montrose, get cleaned up and get on the road to California. I told him that Alison was catering the BBQ lunch at the finish line and if they timed it right they could eat first. Rick would ride with the rest of us as far as Ridgway where the aid station would be the first and third of the day. The second would be at the summit of Dallas Divide.

We stopped and snapped some pictures as we neared Ridgway of the moon still in the sky, and the hot air balloon rising into the clear, blue sky. I couldn't help but think how unbelievable it would be to see this area from a balloon! We made good time to Ridgway due to the mountains that threw us into Ouray on Friday continuing their work and rolling us out of town and well down the road before we had to work too hard. We filled our bottles, ate part of a bagel and a banana, said our goodbyes to Rick and headed up. Teri wanted to ride Dallas Divide so she set off with Bruce and me through town and toward the peaks in the distance. We were away from the aid station by 8:00am and hopeful to make it to Montrose by 1:00 or 2:00 to get in on lunch before our long drive.

There was some finishing touches in the works on road repair, including uneven lanes and shoulder drop-offs in a few places. But, for the most part, it was smooth, new blacktop which made for a pleasant climb, and promised a more than pleasant descent! The balloon was still in the air, riders going both directions on the road, and not too much traffic to contend with.

The climb was about 11 miles from Ridgway to the top of Dallas Divide, but never too steep. Even stopping for pictures we were all making good time, and enjoying another gorgeous morning. We were told that it had rained much of the week before, and we expected rain in the mountains in the afternoon, but had made it through this week without any bad weather, and very little rain.

We all made it to the summit by 9:20am feeling great! A little sad that this was the last climb, but proud to have done all the miles we had done in the last 8 days. And we still had a good descent ahead of us and a ride to Montrose. Having just come this way, we knew that the turns on our descent were wide, sweeping curves, with terrific visibility and smooth pavement. Conditions were perfect for a fast run into Ridgway. We spent a little time taking pictures and visiting with other riders at the summit including Sean, a guy I met from Grand Junction. He was out riding Dallas Divide by himself just for fun. I love Colorado! He had some questions about the tour and the Copper Triangle. He had done RAGBRAI and could only get away for one week-long tour each year, but was interested in CRMBT for next year. He had tried to enter the Copper Triangle late the week before, but it was already filled. Teri and Bruce were ready to head down and she called out, in Rick's honor, "we're touring".

I couldn't help but smile as we screamed down the mountain. Tucked down as aerodynamically as it's possible for me to get, I was flying without working at all. When I realized I wasn't making up any ground on Bruce and Teri I stood up for a while and pushed to try to get more speed. I got a little closer but couldn't catch them until we were almost in Ridgway. I checked my max speed and it was 47.5mph. When Teri checked hers it was 50! Bruce had really been moving too, but couldn't stay with Teri when she got going downhill. We had just been at the aid station a few minutes before, so we decided to skip the third one and head for Montrose.

We were rolling slightly downhill again making good time and enjoying everything about the ride, except for the headwind. But Bruce was back in his element. He hammered away like he was back in South Dakota. I had stopped for a picture and worked as hard as I could to catch back up. I got to Teri, and the two of us worked to catch Bruce. I don't think we ever would have if he hadn't slowed, but eventually the three of us rode together in to Montrose. We rolled into the school parking lot to hootin' and hollerin' at 11:30. What a feeling of accomplishment! We loaded bikes in the van, grabbed a shower, and sat down to lunch, Alison and her team had brisket, chili dogs, beans, pasta salad, potato salad, and watermelon, and as usual, everything was great.

We said goodbye and thanks to Peter and Hillary. We thanked Kevin and Hugh, the guys from Denver Spoke, Theo the Sherpa Packer, Alison and her team from Cyprus Cafe. We said goodbye to Teri and other riders we had met along the way; Dave from Omaha, Norm, the 70 something years young guy who has done all 3 years of CRMBT after several Ride the Rockies before that. We were glad to be heading toward home, pumped to have completed some hard rides throughout the week, and ready to come back next year. I would highly recommend that cyclists experience a multi-day tour. There's nothing like waking up and knowing all you have to worry about today is "where do I ride?" and "what do I eat?" And, if you can make it to Colorado in August, ride the CRMBT! RIDE THE CRMBT!!!!!


  1. Congratulations!! and Thanks for taking us along.

  2. I enjoyed reading your account of CRMBT. It was almost like I was there. Wait a minute, I WAS there. This is Karl from Texas. I enjoyed meeting you and your gang in Pagosa Springs. Hope to see you again some day.

  3. Excellent pics! The actual ride takes care of us for a week but the ride pics have to carry us through the rest of the year.
    Loved reading your narrative also.

  4. Karl, It was good to meet you too. Did you fly out on Friday or Saturday. If you missed the ride on Friday, it was awesome! I would like to do that ride again. See you next year?

  5. I had to fly out on Friday, so I missed the Million Dollar Highway. I hope to do it someday. As far as next year, I hope so.